Stunt woman who lost her arm sues for R40m
She claims several people were to blame for horror accident while filming a scene from 'Resident Evil'
An SA stunt woman wants R40m in damages after she lost her arm in a near-fatal crash filming a stunt for a Hollywood movie.
Olivia Jackson, 37, stood in for Milla Jovovich who played the protagonist Alice in the horror sci-fi franchise Resident Evil. Jackson was filming a stunt for Resident Evil: The Final Chapter on September 5 2015 when she smashed into a camera rig and was in a coma for three weeks.
In court papers recently filed in the high court in Pretoria, Jackson argues there were several people to blame for the accident, including the driver of the car the camera was mounted on, and the camera crane operator. Both have denied liability.
She says the car was driven in an “unsafe manner”, the driver “failed to keep a proper lookout” and “travelled at an excessive speed”.
The camera crane operator had failed to inform “all relevant parties of the changes in the timing” of the stunt.
She also blames Davis Films and Pyranha Stunts, saying the film company “failed to plan the sequence of events properly” and that the stunt company “failed to plan the sequence of events with such meticulous detail as to reasonably prevent an accident from happening”.
The stunt was filmed on an abandoned part of the N4 highway near Hartbeespoort Dam, west of Pretoria, and involved Jackson riding on a motorcycle.
“I had no helmet on or no protection because the shot was supposed to be Milla Jovovich just riding with no stuff on. Coming towards me was a camera vehicle with a crane off the side and a camera hanging off the crane. The crane moves and the camera scoops up and over me as I head towards it. I rode towards the camera and, unfortunately, the crane and camera just didn’t lift in time,” Jackson told the Sunday Times in 2016.
“I remember everything up until the actual moment of impact. Luckily, your mind blocks that part out because I don’t think I’d like to remember that.”
Jackson broke dozens of bones, shattered her shoulder blade, had a 7cm piece of bone ripped from her forearm, severed the main artery in her neck, had bleeding on the brain, and had nerves torn out of her spinal cord.
Jackson is seeking damages in rands for her recovery period in SA and future loss of income and medical treatment in British pounds since she is now living in the UK. Her claim includes: R2m for past hospital and medical expenses;
R1.5m in damages for pain, suffering, disability and disfigurement;
£1m (R17.9m) for future medical treatment; and
£1m (R17.9m) in loss of income. Jackson used to earn R200,000 a month and estimated her salary would be £20,000 (R360,000) a month in the UK.
Camera crane controller Gustav Marais said in court papers it took less than a minute to film the shot but that the impact of a sudden shower of rain could not have been foreseen.
“Bearing in mind it takes less than a minute to complete a run, there is not much time to assess the severity of the rain from inside the camera tracking vehicle.”
It was drizzling that day but during the disastrous run there has been a “sudden shower of rain”. Jackson had been riding into the direction the rain was pouring.
“The stunt performer (Jackson) on the approaching motorcycle, in hindsight, would have had to squint and hide from the rain beating on her face like bee stings at the travel speed,” Marais said.
Roland Melville, who was driving the car on which the camera was mounted, said he was driving at 45km/h and claims Jackson did not slow down.
“The motorcycle ... was travelling at a higher speed than rehearsed. A mere throttle-off or use of the excellent brakes on the motorbike would have avoided a collision.”
Marais and Melville claim Jackson did not follow the instructions of the two successful practice runs.
“The stunt performer (Jackson) had increased the speed of the motorcycle and thus failed to compensate for variances that took place in the inclement weather.”
Jackson has featured in several high-profile films, including Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, and was the stunt double for Charlize Theron in Mad Max: Fury Road.